Writer Of The Week: Felicity Harper

Felicity Harper

Here’s our first Writer Of The Week for 2024! Please give a warm welcome to Felicity Harper. Her story “Reaching New Heights” is in Special 25s which is in the shops now.

Tell us about your story “Reaching New Heights”

I wrote the first draft of this before Covid, so I had to put it on hold for a while until the sort of things described in it were possible again! I wanted to write a story about the interactions between different generations in a family and how they can all inspire and support each other. And about how people do things they don’t really want to for the benefit of other members of their family – and, in this case, how well that can work out in the end. I like stories based in reality that paint a familiar picture to the reader, but which have warmth and humour and a bit of the absurd, so I hope that is what I achieved with this.


Marion is a strong character. Is she based on someone you know?

I suppose she is the distillation of the spirit of a lot of people I know. Someone who talks sternly to herself about how she should be braver and who takes risks. Someone who doesn’t let age be a barrier; someone who follows through when she has promised something. But also an entertaining character who makes us laugh. I think she is someone a lot of people could identify with in one way or another.


How long have you been writing fiction?

I have to admit that I don’t spend as much time as I would like writing fiction. I do write a lot in my day job, but that is a different kind of writing. I’ve got some other stories on the go – some of them complete but needing some work and others just vague ideas or first paragraphs. If something funny has happened, I base a piece of writing on that – like an anecdote. Then I try to work things up into a story.


Who are some of your favourite authors?

I’ve read all of Doris Lessing’s books, and I’m a great fan of Agatha Christie and Sophie Hannah. I’ve recently discovered Belinda Bauer and love the depictions in her books. Then there are authors I sometimes enjoy, depending on the book, like Sebastian Faulkes, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Steinbeck. My all- time favourite children’s author is Anthony Buckeridge, who wrote the Jennings novels. They are absolutely hilarious depictions of the ridiculous antics of two schoolboys who take themselves very seriously.


What are your long-term writing plans?

I would like to write a novel one day, but I haven’t come up with a plot yet! I can imagine characters and situations, but making a story out of them is a different matter entirely. I love writing short stories, so I’m going to find some time to work on the ones I’ve got on the go and to keep just writing bits and bobs and hoping they develop into something more substantial.


What advice would you give someone trying to have a story published in the “Friend”?

I would say think about your readers and what they might enjoy reading and what they might relate to. And how you would like your reader to feel at the end of your story. Then remember that the “Friend” is only one of your friends. Send it to people you know to get their opinion. Often you can see your characters and scenes so well in your own mind, you don’t realise that they aren’t written well enough for anyone else to be there with you. Then, most importantly, when you get advice from the editors at the “Friend” about how to improve your story, follow their advice and try again. I enjoy writing for itself, but it’s always nice if someone else likes your story and thinks other people will as well.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!